Despite living on an island, most NYC residents don’t think of taking to the water for leisure. But there is so much to do on the water with your kids that it is shame to ignore this amenity.
—The American Littoral Society (littoral meaning ‘coastal’) offers sunset cruises from Sheepshead Bay, and kayaking trips. The three-hour, narrated sunset cruises focus on the history and ecology of the bay; you can see nesting peregrine falcons, osprey, herons, egrets, ibis, shorebirds and waterfowl. For more information, call (718) 318-9344: www.alsnyc.org. New York Water Taxi has 90-minute eco-sunset tours every Saturday at 7pm to see herons. Tours are led by guides from the New York Audubon Society, who point out the birds they spot. For tickets, go to www.nywatertaxi.com.
—Doing it yourself can make boating more fun. Kids can learn to sail for free when their parents take a three-day “Learn to Sail” course. The Offshore Sailing School, which runs programs at Chelsea Piers and Liberty Landing (in New Jersey) teaches a parent and child (ages 11-17) how to sail a 26 – 30 foot sailboat. The sailing program runs though September 30. For more information, call (800) 221-4326 or go to www.offshore-sailing.com.
—You can learn to canoe with the Gowanus Dredger group, which offers free instruction on weekends. This is as bare-bones as it gets — you paddle in the Gowanus Canal, famous for being a recipient of raw sewage, but the water has been cleaned up of late, and it is very pleasant and peaceful. If you have taken the F train, you can paddle below the elevated tracks and gain a new perspective on the subway. For more information, call (718) 243 0849 or go to www.gowanuscanal.org.